Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Autonomous School Zurich Forced To Close

We have just learnt that the autonomously run school for undocumented migrants in Switzerland that we highlighted last October has been raided by police and destroyed. Against a backdrop of increased anti-foreigner sentiment, that included the recently banning of the building of minarets on new mosques and the admission by the Swiss government that its 'non-admissions' policy had failed, it was only a matter of time before this open sign of defiance was closed down.

The Autonomous School Zurich (ASZ) opened last April, when activists squatted an empty building at the Allenmoos School on the outskirts of Zurich. Operating according self-organising principles, courses were open to all to put on and attend and included everything from language lessons to open-source computer courses and classes in solar energy fundamentals. The main group involved in the project was 'Education for All', a grass-roots organisation set up by migrants and anti-racist activists to support undocumented migrants and campaign against the exclusion and widespread discrimination against migrants in Switzerland.

Using the excuse of dangerous electrical installations at the school, riot police raided the building on 7 January, driving off the occupants an pepper spraying supporters who had assembled to defend the school. The cops them proceeded to trash the building, confiscation teaching materials and equipment and removing windows, rendering the building uninhabitable.

Supporters of the school had expected the city council to continue its policy of tollerance towards the project until at least the summer, when a new project was due to replace it. However they appear to be victims of the Swiss Federal Office for Migration's crackdown on migrants as their attempts to "facilitate" the registration of migrants in the country have been an abject failure with only an overall increase in registrations of 3% over the last 3 years. The Federal Office now plans to consider asylum claims even if the applicant doesn't present proper identity papers and to cut appeal time for negative decisions by half to 15 days. Inevitably this will have the opposite effect to that intended and even more migranmts will be forced underground.

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